“Once you can prove to them that there’s a reason you’re in your position, it’s a lot easier for them to respect you,” Ray Land. (Ray started his own business, Fabulous Coach Co., as a teenager. His company now exceeds $4 million in annual sales).
As a young professional, I find myself hurdling new obstacles on a daily basis. This is to be expected for a person fresh out of college and merging into the business world. Many of these issues can be overcome with plenty of hard work and dedication. However, there is one thing I cannot bypass: my age. So the question is, how can I gain the trust of an owner or decision-making principal of a company with very little professional experience?
Naturally, knowledge comes along with years of experience. With that being said, I have developed several strategies in my time at Skyline that have helped me get in the door, and then develop the respect that is essential towards closing deals. I believe that these things have set me apart from other 24-year-old young professionals. If this blog helps just one young professional shorten their learning curve in their career path, then my goal will be accomplished.
A primary rule that I follow is always dressing for success. I always wear a suit and tie when knocking on doors or attending professional meetings and this clearly separates me from my age group in the business world. This immediately gives me a significant amount of credibility, even if it is just how I look. I believe it conveys respect towards the client and shows that you have taken that extra effort to make yourself appear as professional as possible. If first impressions are everything, your customers will immediately realize that you are serious about doing business if you show up dressed to impress.
Besides the dress code, there are several other rules that I adhere to. Be punctual. Show up to meetings early with a sufficient amount of time to prepare yourself. Contact the customer before you arrive to confirm your appointment. This proves to the customer that you are diligent, organized, prepared, and excited. But again, BE PUNCTUAL! Turn your cell phone on vibrate or completely off. There is nothing more disrespectful than your phone going off when you are trying to establish credibility. If this ever does happen by accident, apologize profusely and beg for forgiveness!
Another component in my success thus far has been “tactful persistence” in following up with a prospective client. I have come to realize there is a fine line between being persistent and pestering a client. Following up with them in a reasonable amount of time defines you as not being too pushy, which can kill a deal. But in that process, be aggressive yet flexible and understanding. Finding that balance is not something I can elaborate on in detail. You just have to be able to read the signs the client is giving you and either push forward or back off. There have been several times that I backed off and got a call months after I initially made the call, all ending in deals!
Some other very basic tips I can give you fall under the common sense category, yet I find that is not the case for a lot of young professionals. Fortunately for me, I was born and raised in the South and because of that, I was taught early that patience and manners are not optional. These traits have helped me immensely and have also helped me tremendously when meeting with much older clients. “Yes Sir”, and “Yes M’am” answers are a must for young professionals. Showing respect is a sign of character. And if people do business with the people they know, like, trust, or admire, showing simple gestures of respect will put you into one of those categories of character immediately and will ingratiate your customer with your manners.
I also try to convey to my customers that although I am young, I am ambitious and humble to learn new things. God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason, so I try to listen more than I speak. If I am unfamiliar with an aspect of the conversation, I humbly ask my client questions, and make them feel that I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them, or anybody…and I am!
At the end of the day, wiser more experienced professionals can smell a “starvin’ salesman” a mile away. So carry yourself well, dress well, be respectful, be tactfully persistent, show manners, turn the phone off, and above all…speak with confidence. Believe in what you have to offer. Know that you can legitimately help the person in front of you and they will respond accordingly.
Following these simple guidelines will give you a huge head-start over the competition no matter what age you are, but especially if you are young like me.
All the best,
Casey Price –Executive Business Development